I have lots of mysteries on my reading list for this month. There are also 3 non-fiction books and my favorite, The Warburgs by Ron Chernow, should count as 3 because it's very long. Of the fiction books, Strangler Vine (historical fiction) was the biggest positive surprise and I loved meeting up with John Wells, Nathan Heller, Harry Bosch and Will Trent again.
Please let me know in the comments of any great books that you read this month and you are always welcome to post a review with an opinion opposite of mine. Sometimes a book is good or bad simply based on the timing of when we read it.
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
By Tom Mueller, Narrated by Peter Ganim
I like nonfiction books on esoteric topics and this one seemed like a good candidate. I can’t actually eat olive oil but before I knew about my chlorophyll allergy I loved olives and olive oil. The book is generally interesting but it’s not well organized and you feel like every chapter is just a retelling of the points of the previous chapter but with different examples. What I learned is that the olive oil industry is rife with fraud and that most of the oil we buy in the stores isn’t pure olive oil at all. It explains why I have difficulty sometimes with my olive oil based soaps. There’s no assuring that the oil is olive and therefore the saponification value of the oil could be anything. He shares a lot of information on the miraculous health benefits of olive oil but then proves, once again, that we can’t rely in that either. Many of the processing steps that some bottlers go through completely kill the beneficial elements of the oil. Unless you are buying your olive oil close to the olive grove you are probably wasting your money. That pretty much sums up the book.
By Harry Farthing, Narrated by Harry Farthing
This book is about 2 attempted climbs of Mt. Everest. One is in 2009 and one in 1939. I actually stopped listening to the book after the 4th hour because it was kind of boring. I then listened to Extra Virginity and figured that if I could make it through EV then I could make it through The Summit and I did. The story is actually pretty good and I liked the ending although it was pretty unbelievable. This book has gotten widespread rave reviews so take my ambivalence with a grain of salt or a teaspoon of olive oil. I guess that mountain climbing isn't that interesting to me.
One thing that hurt this book was the narration. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t great either. Authors should never narrate their own books.
True Crime: Nathan Heller Series
By Max Allen Collins, Narrated by Dan John Miller
This is the second in the very entertaining Nathan Heller series. These books are set in Depression Era Chicago and the stories revolve around real criminals, real cops and real feds. The author interjects Nathan Heller into the stories and offers some alternative theories about what really happened. Max Allen Collins was one of the writers for the Dick Tracy comic book series and you can see our hero, Detective Nathan Heller as a Tracy type. The narration is great and you feel the you have been set perfectly into that era. This is the second in the series and revolves around the death of John Dillinger outside of the Biograph Theater in Chicago. It’s a fun read.
The Silent Man
By Alex Berenson, Narrated by George Guidall
This is the 3rd book in the John Wells series. John is a semi-rogue CIA operative who is being hunted by his nemesis from book #2 and now tracking down new threats in this book. If you like international intrigue that is fast paced with lots of action, these books are for you.
I'm way behind on this series. This is only book #3 of 11.
I also love George Guidall as a narrator.
by Ron Chernow, Narrated by jonathan Reese
You have to like long biographies to want to read this book but I love long biographies about families and I loved this one. The publisher's summary best describes the book:
"Bankers, philanthropists, scholars, socialites, artists, and politicians, the Warburgs stood at the pinnacle of German (and, later, German American) Jewry. They forged economic dynasties, built mansions and estates, assembled libraries, endowed charities, and advised a German kaiser and two American presidents. But their very success made the Warburgs lightning rods for anti-Semitism, and their sense of patriotism became increasingly dangerous in a Germany that had declared Jews the enemy."
This is a fascinating family story and world financial history story. If you like Ron Chernow, you'll love this one too and Jonathan Reese does an excellent job with the narration.
If Every I Return, Pretty Peggy-O
by Sharyn McCrumb, Narrated by Sally Darling
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It's the first in a series of books set in rural Tennessee and this one is set in 1986 on the eve of the 20th class reunion for the class of 1966. Also, new in town is famous folk singer Peggy Muryan and a series of crimes have started that seem to be inspired by her songs.
I have some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand it's a little slow moving but it seems about right for the time and place. It's in the mystery genre but it's really more about people, their relationships and the baggage that they carry through life. This one is all about Vietnam baggage. I don't meant that in any derogatory way. We all have baggage of some sort and in this book it's mostly about Vietnam.
The fun part of this book for me was the narrator. She had a perfect Southern accent. In fact she sounded just like my college roommate's mom, Hilda. I could listen to Hilda talk for house and I can say the same for Sally Darling. I think I listened to this book as much to hear her talk as anything else and I'll likely give the second book in the series a try.
The Black Box
by Michael Connelly, narrated by Michael McConnohie
This is the 18th book in the Harry Bosch series. I love the character, Harry, and have enjoyed all of the books in this series. Harry is now back at the LAPD working in the cold case department and has one from the LA riots that's 20 years old. The victim is a beautiful blonde foreign correspondent. He remembers taking the call that night but they had less than 30 minutes at each crime site during the riots.Now he's taking another look.
It's a good plot line but I didn't think this was one of the best in the Bosch series. Frankly I'm not confident that Michael Connelly actually wrote it. I know that after series mature that some authors bring in other writers and this has that fee. My issue could have also been the narrator. Michael McConnohie is fine but Len Cariou is the voice of Harry Bosch in my head and it was difficult to make the transition.
All the criticism aside, it's still a fun and fast paced Harry Bosch book and I enjoyed it.
by Thomas F Madden, Narrated by Eduardo Ballerini
I was looking forward to this book because I loved Istanbul by the same author. This one sort of got interesting around hour 4 but then got dull again and I just had to give up by hour 9.
Overall reviews for this book are excellent so if you think it's a topic that would be of interest to you then you should ignore my opinion and give it a try.
The 7th Canon
by Robert Dugoni, Narrated by James Patrick Cronin
Robert Dugoni is becoming one of my favorite mystery/crime writers. I really enjoy his Tracey Crosswhite series. In this one Father Thomas Martin runs a home for street boys. One of them is killed in the home and Martin is accused. Young Attorney Peter Donley must defend him and the only way he can is by figuring out who the real killer is.
It's fast paced with a good assortment of characters. This could easily become a series based on Donley and his detective. Some reviewers point out some messiness with certain facts about the Catholic religion but it didn't take away from the story for me.
The Kept Woman
by Karin Slaughter, Narrated by Kathleen Early
This is the 8th and most recent book in the Will Trent series. Will is an investigator in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and he carries a lot of baggage from his disturbing childhood. His love, Sara Linton, is the medical examiner for the GBI. The other major character is Angie, Will's childhood friend/tormentor and estranged wife. She's seriously nuts.
In this book Will had been investigating a rape charge against an NBA star and later the murder of an ex-cop. It's a complex mystery where everything ties together and there's a personal link to Will's past. It's a good story that I was glued to until the end.
My only beef with Karin Slaughter is that the relationship between Will and Sara and Will and Angie seems to never progress. These are people who deal with death and danger every day and yet, in their relationships they often act like 7th graders. Some of their communications are out of character. But I can take that to have the wonderfully complex mystery.
The Strangler Vine
by MJ Carter, Narrated by Alex Wyndham
This book was, I believe, another Audible Daily Deal and it was quite the deal!
Set in India in 1837, William Avery and Jeremiah Blake are sent on a mission to find a lost British author. The assignment takes them on an amazing and dangerous adventure where they end up in the mysterious Thugee cult/cast and the East India Company's attempt to quash the group. Yes, this is the source of our word "thug". Even if you don't read the book it's fun to look up "thug" in Wikipedia for a summary history of the group and word. This book is adventure and mystery and if you like historical fiction you will like this one.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.